Probably about 10% of the potential new clients that we meet with tried to represent themselves before the Industrial Commission of Arizona and bring in an unfavorable decision from the Administrative Law Judge. This is kind of like going to a surgeon after trying to do the surgery yourself and failing…
Generally speaking, your best “bite at the apple” in a workers (workmans) compensation claim is at the hearing with the ALJ. That is the only time that you can submit evidence and make a record of why you think you should win on that particular issue. If you lose, you certainly have a right to appeal – the first step is by filing a request for review with the same judge that made the unfavorable decision. Good luck trying to convince the judge that they were wrong about your case all along and should admit it and change their mind! In 11 years practicing at the Industrial Commission, I’ve been successful on exactly 3 requests for review. I very rarely request review following an unfavorable decision.
If the ALJ stands by their original decision and issues a Decision Upon review affirming their original decision, you can file a Petition for Special Action with the Arizona Court of Appeals. However, you cannot submit additional evidence or make new arguments. You are usually limited to trying to prove that the ALJ committed some error either in admitting evidence or applying the law to the facts of your case. In those same eleven years, I’ve won exactly ONE case at the Court of Appeals.
Bottom line, get an attorney at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley BEFORE your first hearing at the Industrial Commission. Most of those clients who come to me with unfavorable decisions could have had a different outcome had we been able to help them from the beginning.
Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson who represent injured workers before the Industrial Commission of Arizona. They have represented thousands of Arizonans injured on the job.